BMA backs GPs who wish to take legal action against Capita

Authors: Abi Rimmer 

Publication date:  24 Jan 2018

The BMA has said that it would support GPs and practices that take legal action to tackle problems with Capita’s running of back-office services. Capita has provided primary care support services for NHS England since September 2015, under the name Primary Care Support England (PCSE).

In November the BMA highlighted what it called PCSE’s “ongoing issues due to poor delivery” by Capita. However, Capita said that the BMA’s comments did not accurately reflect its role and involvement in providing the services.[1]

In a letter to Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, sent on 16 January, the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee said that because the problems with Capita’s services had not improved it was “left with no option but to support practices and individual doctors in taking legal routes to seek resolution.”

The committee’s chair, Richard Vautrey, who wrote the letter, added that while such legal action was taking place NHS England would still need to conduct a review of all policy, procedures, and processes used by PCSE.

A BMA survey of 748 general practices, published on 19 January, found that 658 practices (88%) were waiting for Capita to collect patient records and 696 (93%) were waiting for records to be delivered.[2]

The association said that while most practices were reporting that only a small number of records were affected, the overall number of practices affected was worrying, and there had been little improvement since 2016.

The survey also found that 62% of practices had not had urgent requests for patient care actioned within three weeks and 39% of practices had patient registrations that were not processed within three days.

In his letter to Stevens, Vautrey demanded that urgent action be taken to tackle the problems with Capita, because they were having a major effect on the care of patients.

Commenting on the problems, Vautrey said that the BMA had tried to work with NHS England for the past two years to resolve the problems caused by Capita’s “shambolic” running of GP back-room services. “We have so far been met with hollow commitments as responses,” he said.

“NHS England can no longer ignore two years of failure, which is why we’re calling for them to take urgent action to address these long running issues immediately,” he added.

Arvind Madan, director of primary care and deputy medical director at NHS England, said, “We are working very closely with Capita to ensure the needed improvements are made to services.

“Some issues are now resolved, and progress is well under way with others. This is shown through improvements to customer satisfaction. We are, however, continuing to drive progress hard where it is still needed.”

Capita had been contacted for comment but had not responded by time of publication.


  1. Rimmer A. Practices’ viability is threatened by Capita’s failings, warns BMA. BMJ  2017;359:j5123. [Link]   [Link] .
  2. BMA. Primary Care Support England (PCSE) service failures. Jan 2018. [Link] .

Abi Rimmer BMJ

Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: